Author: Cornish, Rick

More Post Festival Reports

I have to admit that, at least in my role as our web team leader, this is my favorite time of year. Traffic on has been way up since June 21st, the last day of our Fathers Day Festival. While this has been pretty much the case immediately after each Grass Valley since we launched the web site eight years ago, (folks who went want to read about and see what they experienced, those who werenít able to attend want to read about and see what they missed), this year has been off the charts. Hits for yesterday, for example, were just under 11,000, and believe me, for those of us who put a lot of time into the CBA web site, thatís a pretty gratifying statistic.

But the fact is we have had lots and lots of Fathers Day 2009 coverage during the last week. In the Welcomes, on the Message Board and, three cheers for Kenny Reynolds, in the Photo Gallery. So here are a couple more items worth sharing. The first is a note I received from Bob Garcia, a long time friend and picking pal from down in the Fresno area who had this to share:

Dear Rick,

The email subject will serve as my title. So, where do I begin? First of all, an enormous amount of thanks to you and all concerned, Kelly Broyles, Craig Wilson, Yoseff Tucker, Doug Dowell who found a guitar player for us by the name of Hugh Hoeger from Placerville who came through in a big way. Last but, not least, the CBA for having us grace the VW stage at GV.

Never in my wildest dreams would I know how it was going to feel to play Grass Valley and on the Vern Williams Stage, a place of honor. It had been twelve years since I last attented GV due to family & work obligations, my oldest was just six months old. So a few bands later and alot of positive input from Mr. Cornish and Mr. Kelly, my band GrassKickers gets the ultimate gig. To add to the excitement and the drama, we came up Friday evening with only three members due to our guitar player, Doug Bremseth having issues with his back that made it impossible to travel the long hours in a car. But it was Doug who said, "Ya'll should still go, find a sub to play guitar and git'er done because it's Grass Valley!" You just don't quit because one of you can't make it and where else but GV are you going to find an alternate so easily? So we come up and over in Penn Valley, not far away we rehearse, come up with a set list and wait to hear from anyone at the GV camp who will answer the call. And answer they did, late Friday evening, all is well and on Saturday morning after breakfast we head over to the fairgrounds. We have about two hours before we go on and Hugh Hoeger meets us in front of the Vern Williams Stage, there is one or two other people around so have the place to ourselves. We meet, shake hands, show him the set list and just like any other jam, start pickin', one tune, then the next, then the next, till finally I can relax because it feels likes it's all going to work. And work it did! After the opening band, Bean Creek gets done with their encore, we go on to what seemed like a 200 plus appreciative crowd. We picked and sang, and just got blessed! After it was over, I was just starving(for food) and could hardly get through lunch without someone coming up often to say how much they enjoyed the show. So Grass Valley, where I got lots of practice on mandolin, picked with lots of great musicians, experienced my first Father's Day and played on Vern Williams Stage, thanks to all who made it happen and gave me some priceless memories in the process. I will definitely be back next year. Till then, Bob.

Canít go on without mentioning one last time the colossal job Dave Zimmerman did with the Verns Stage this year. Even though this new feature is only three years old, itís hard, for me at least, to remember what Grass Valley was like without the Verns operation.

And the same can be said for our Slow Jam Program. Hereís a not I received from Dan Martin, our SJ originator and leader:

Hi Rick, good to hear from ya. I asked if you were there on Sunday and was told you were. I was surprised with all of our wandering around we never crossed paths this year. We had at least 20 people at every jam. On Friday afternoon we had about 30. there were probably another 10 or so that sat on the benches and watched but didn't bring instruments, maybe next year. The evening jams were smaller than last year, about 20 and of course about half of them never did a break but most did pick songs. Steve and I changed the way we have done the jam on Friday afternoon and asked the jammers to just pick a song of their own and we'd join in. It made a few jam buster songs but that was ok it was still a learning experience for them to learn what kind of songs they should pick for jams. A song no one had ever heard in the key of F was a good example, but I had it figured out about half way thru my break. We had about 6 or so that came to every jam that we had. One guy from Napa that I met last year who never took a break but sang a few songs did a break every time it came to him. He got the most improved Slow Jammer award. The feed back was good, alot of people said they really enjoyed it and thanked us several times. All in all it was a success. Monty questioned if it was too big and should we split it up. Steve and I talked about it and will try it next year. We would like to change the way that we do it next year. Instead of only giving them about 10 songs, I want to make a large list of songs that are sung at alot of jams but are not difficult with alot of minors. If it's possible I would like to know if we could put a place on the webpage where I could put the list. that way they can just bring songs to the jam and perhaps we would get more singing out of the afternoon jam. That was something that happened with the change of them picking any song they wanted. I am going to retire before the first of the year and plan to spend more time on the slow jam next year. I appreciate the way that it was placed in the program this year. I think it got a few more people involved. I though Grass Valley was great this year. I have no complaints, thanks for letting me start this jam and the support that you and the board have given us. I see that it needs to evolve and will continue to try to make it better. Every year I get one or two that really stand out and make the effort worth it when I see them dive in and get the bluegrass jam bug. Last year it was a lady who sang on Friday night and then on Sat, told me she'd never sang in front of anyone before and she did a good job. This year it was a couple that it was their first year and they came every time. You could see them improve and become more confident. Saturday night was COLD but we still had about 15 or so that came and sang. There were a few times I had to tell them to pick another song when the songs were a little too difficult for the group. I don't think they were ready to play Big Sand River by ear. Can we have a spot on the webpage with a link? I am also going to post some pictures from both the evening and afternoon jams when I get them sent to me. Thanks again for the support. Dan

Like Dave Z. with Verns, Dan never stops exploring ways to make his program a little better, a little more focused on the needs and wants of his constituency. And at the macro level, the same is certainly true of our Festival Director, Montie Elston, and his Assistant Director, Tim Edes. In fact, in August, when we do our retrospective meeting on the just-held festival, all of our team leaders will submit their reports on what to do differently in 2010 which, by the by, will be the 35th annual Fathers Day Festival. And let me put the following in CAPS.

Posted:  6/30/2009

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